It’s not rocket science that your resume is key to attaining a new job. To make sure you are following the latest trends, covering the basics, and ensuring success, follow these easy steps.
Organize it by what matters
In this fast-paced world where everyone is used to Twitter snippets and media headlines, a resume seems like a dense piece of work to read through thoroughly. Make it easy for your readers by putting what matters most at the top—don’t make anyone dig for your highlights.
Some modern resume style guides even recommend writing resumes in a different format: create a section at the top just for highlights instead of using traditional sections like skills and employment history. A general internet search for modern resume templates provides good examples of what this can look like.
Tailor it to the company and position you are applying to
The rule of thumb dictates you should have a master resume, which has every detail and piece of employment history on it. Almost no one ever sees this resume; it is really for your own use so that you don’t forget important items.
From this master resume, you should create tailored resumes for particular jobs. To tailor the resume, delete everything irrelevant as well as rewrite it using language and keywords the employer used in its job description.
Tailored resumes speak to employers, telling them you understand who they are, what they want, and what you can contribute.
If you are attending a job fair, keep your absolute highlights on the resume.
You should NEVER, of course, make up what your history or skills are; just highlight what is relevant and communicate clearly.
Keep it to one piece of paper (two sides)
Just as it is important to rearrange your resume to make it reader friendly, keeping your resume short is key. Perhaps this may be the most difficult part because people often have the urge to show the breadth of their skills and knowledge by including the different jobs they have worked in.
Think of your resume as an advertisement to get someone into a store. Just as the purpose of these ads is to get people to physically go to a store’s retail venue, the purpose of your resume is to get you an interview. So include ONLY what NEEDS to be on your resume to get you the interview. Make it like your personal ad, short and very sweet. When you are interviewed, express the true depths of your knowledge and expertise.
If you are in academia or research, it is important to note that this rule does not apply to a curriculum vitae (CV). Different fields call for different standards when it comes to items like these. In these fields, it is crucial to see the publication history (for example of a potential professor), which often does not and probably should not fit on one page.
Make it consistent
To someone reading a resume, nothing is more annoying than various types of headers, dates in different formats, and disparate bullet styles. Choose how you want the resume to look: the bullet style and heading fonts, whether the heading is bold or not, where the dates will be placed and how they will be written, and so on. After you make this choice consciously, STICK TO IT!
Every section header should be bold OR italic—the same for every section no matter what you choose. Every section should contain bullets OR numbers—the same in each section no matter what you choose. Every past job should contain employment dates, and those dates should include the spelled out month and year you were initially employed followed by an en dash and then the fully spelled out month and year your employment ended for that company; use the same format, the same place, and the same fonts for every position.
You do not need to use these exact formats, but no matter what style or format you use, make sure that you are consistent throughout your resume. Things should match in every possible way. If you need extra help, try looking through resume style guides or getting a resume writer.
Don’t make spelling or grammar mistakes
Spelling and grammar mistakes on a resume will worry a potential employer: you may be lazy, don’t pay attention to details, and don’t care deeply enough about what you have set out to do. Think of your resume as a first impression; you wouldn’t walk into an interview with an untucked shirt and bed head, so don’t hand in a resume that looks the same way.
Prevent mistakes by using the tools you have available. Ask a friend or two to double check your work. College career centers will often help current students as well as alumni with career-related items like resumes; check with your alma matter to see what services are available to you! Try using a word processing software that includes an editing function or download one (like Grammarly) from the internet. Investing a little at the start of your career search can have huge benefits in the long run.
Article Writen by Cherise Tolbert
Read Work Smart!
Eric Shannon, the founder of Latpro, Inc. and DiversityJobs, has written an in-depth guide on “How to Land a Job at a Great Company and Get Promoted.” Part One encompasses “Landing a Job” and has a section on the importance of making a connection with your resume. His tips could really make your resume stand out. His book is available on Amazon for less than the cost of three coffees at your favorite coffee shop.